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Security forces raze buildings at two illegal West Bank outposts

Some 400 officers and Civil Administration officials demolish 20 structures at Maoz Esther and Givat Habaladim; 3 hurt after settlers hurl stones, attack troops with pepper spray

Israeli officials demolish a stracture at the illegal West Bank outpost of Maoz Esther, March 21. 2022. (screenshot)
Israeli officials demolish a stracture at the illegal West Bank outpost of Maoz Esther, March 21. 2022. (screenshot)

Israeli security forces on Monday razed several buildings in two illegal outposts in the central West Bank.

Over 400 Border Police officers, Israel Defense Forces soldiers, and Civil Administration officials destroyed some 20 structures in Maoz Esther and Givat Habaladim, located near the settlement of Kochav Hashahar.

Both outposts are home to eight families in total.

Maoz Esther was the home of Ahuvia Sandek, a 16-year-old boy who was killed in a crash while fleeing from police in December 2020, allegedly after throwing rocks at Palestinians.

A synagogue in his memory was built at the outpost, which officials also demolished.

During the demolition, two settlers handcuffed themselves to a metal and concrete structure in protest. Both were freed and promptly detained.

Four others were detained for allegedly rioting and attacking officers.

Around 100 settlers hurled stones at forces operating at Maoz Esther, injuring two Border Police officers and causing damage to several military and engineering vehicles, police said. Separately, a soldier was slightly hurt after a settler allegedly maced him with pepper spray at the outpost.

Police said settlers also slashed the tires of a military vehicle near Givat Habaladim.

“[Defense Minister Benny] Gantz, with the help of [Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett and [Interior Minister Ayelet] Shaked, is determined to return the settlement movement to the days of the [2005] disengagement,” Maoz Esther said in a statement.

“The growing use of IDF soldiers against the settlement shows that there are uninhibited people in the government who will use every tool at their disposal in their struggle against settlements.”

The razing comes a week after IDF troops were allegedly attacked by settlers near the illegal outpost of Homesh.

There has been a rise in settler violence in recent months against both Israeli forces and Palestinians. The military generally prefers that police deal with the attacks and settler arrests, but police do not have as much of a presence in the West Bank.

The Peace Now settlement watchdog said in a report published in December last year that a majority — 63 percent — of settler attacks against Palestinians and troops in 2021 occurred near illegal outposts.

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